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Trump Wants To Take Away Tax Exemption From NFL--But They Gave It Up Two Years Ago

Trump Wants To Take Away Tax Exemption From NFL--But They Gave It Up Two Years Ago
7 months ago

While wildfires devastate California and Puerto Rico continues to deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria, President Trump is hard at work feuding with the NFL over protestors who choose to kneel during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality. In his latest Twitter rant, Trump took a break from attacking ESPN host Jemele Hill and the "failing" New York Times to threaten the NFL's tax exemptions if they didn't straighten out.

There's only one small issue: The NFL has already given up its tax exempted status.

The NFL forfeited its tax exemptions in 2015. At the time, commissioner Roger Goodell claimed they were giving up the exemptions to eliminate the "distraction" they'd become. While liberal activists had been pushing to eliminate the tax benefit for years, most experts agreed that the legislation did not save the NFL significant money since it only applied to the league office. Of the 32 teams in the NFL, 31 are taxed as private organizations.

None of these facts, however, stopped Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) from appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight to denounce the NFL for accepting government support:

It would seem ludicrous to leave in the tax code special treatment for professional sports leagues when they are not out there shutting down behavior that is not only unpatriotic, it’s just a overgeneralized indictment.

Gaetz went on:

It’s my belief that if the Congress is serious about getting rid of the loopholes and special interest giveaways in the tax code in the coming weeks, an easy place to start is by not subsidizing and not giving special treatment to professional sports leagues, particularly when the NFL League Office has embraced this unpatriotic behavior.

The "unpatriotic behavior" Gaetz is referring to is many NFL player's practice of kneeling or raising a fist during the National Anthem. It's important to note that the NFL players who participate in the protest have repeatedly stated that they are protesting police brutality, not America, or the anthem itself. Many conservatives have attacked these players for a lack of patriotism while liberals see the protests as a healthy, peaceful expression of their first amendment rights. 

If Trump truly wants to affect the NFL, the most direct way to stop them benefiting from tax breaks would be to end the tax exemptions that allows for (and encourages) taxpayer money to fund the building and renovations of sports stadiums. In his 2015 budget proposal, President Barack Obama offered a plan to repeal just such exemptions. The GOP-led congress never approved Obama’s plan.